Sweet Medicine (class handout)

Sweet Medicine (Class handout)
Jiling Lin 2015 - LinJiling@gmail.com - www.LinJiling.blogspot.com

How to Use
- Direct ingestion (a few drops, to 2 T)
- Blended with other menstruua (ie. Vinegar, alcohol, cooking, etc)
- Topically (ie. Facial scrubs, baths, etc)

Why to Use
- Pleasure (ie. Desserts, aphrodisiacs, general joy, etc)
- Medicine (ie. Herbal honeys, glycerites, syrups, etc)
- Pleasure medicine

Sweet Menstruums
- Honey (can last indefinitely)
- Glycerine (use within 3-4 years)
- Sugar (Syrup= use within a year)
- Anything sweet (ie. Molasses, maple syrup, etc)

Note: make sure that your equipment is sterilized. Micro-organisms love sugars; sweet medicine preparations, if not kept clean, can mold or ferment.


Honey Infusion
1. Fill jar with fresh/ dried finely chopped plant material.
2. Warm honey (via double boiler method) to 130-140 F (hot but not boiling), to liquefy.
3. Pour liquified honey over plant material, covering at least an inch over the top.
4. Infusion options:
- Slow infusion: Let sit for 2-4 weeks, or indefinitely. Useful for flowers, leaves, and other delicate plant material.
- Hot infusion via sun: Place jar in the sunlight to heat, over 2-4 weeks.
- Hot infusion via double-boiler: Place jar in a double-boiler bath (stovetop, crockpot, or other). Let heat slowly for 6-8 hours (overnight in a crockpot on low, works well.) Useful for roots and thicker plant material.
5. To strain or not to strain?
- Strain, to separate the marc from the menstruum. Retain marc in another airtight glass jar for other uses. Strained honey is clear of plant material, easy to pour and use, for formulation, cooking, etc.
- No strain: plants can remain in honey. The honey is chunky and more difficult to pour, but this is helpful if you like having plant bits in your honey, or will use the marc and menstruum together.

Honey infusion marc possibilities:
- Tea
- Cook into pastries or other desserts
- Add to incense blends
- Add into elixirs or shrubs for subtle effect
- Kombucha
- Just eat it

Made like a tincture, but with glycerine as the menstruum, instead of alcohol. Better with dried plant material, and undiluted glycerine. Glycerite can go bad easily with excess water. Useful for folks with blood sugar imbalances/ sensitivities, or to extract tannins. I prefer honey, otherwise.

Electuaries (honey paste)
4 fl. Oz honey: 3 T powdered herb
(1 C honey: 6 T powdered herb)

Add liquified honey to powdered herbs. Stir until evenly coated.

Electuaries with more powders, to form an even thicker paste-like consistency that remains in a ball, when rolled. Roll balls, let dry, then store.

Other options:
- Add powdered demulcent herbs as solidifying agents (ie. Elm, mallow root, licorice, etc.)
- Coat/ roll with other powders on the surface, to further solidify, and prevent sticking.

1. Simmer (2 oz herb: 32 oz water) on low, down to half the original amount of water: 16 oz of strong tea.
2. Strain the herbs.
3. Add sweetener to decoction at 2:1 ratio. (32 oz honey: 16 oz strong tea) The 2:1 ratio doesn’t need refrigeration. Use less sugar, if you have access to refrigeration.
4. Keep heating, until the sweetener dissolves. Can keep cooking, to make more concentrated.
5. Optional:
- Add 3-4 T brandy (or other alcohol) per cup of syrup, as a preservative.
- Add 1-5 drops of essential oil, for a stronger flavor/ medicinal effect.

1. Layer sugar and fresh plant material (light, such as flowers and leaves). Fill to top of jar. Cap it.
2. Options:
- Let sit. The plant marc will release their moisture into the sugar, causing a syrup to form.
- Shake twice daily. The sugar will attach onto the plant material and crystallize, creating candy-like sugarized plants. Mmm.

- Experiment with different types of sugar. I prefer brown sugar, which is more likely to make a syrup. White sugar is more likely to crystallize, if you shake it.
- A few floral ideas: rose petals, violets

Finishing Salt
1 part fresh herb : 1 part salt
1. Finely chop plant material, or blenderize into a powder, with salt.
2. Mix with salt.
3. Let sit in a flat pan, to dry. Drying times depends on your environmental conditions (anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks). Move the mixture around daily, to expose more surfaces to air, to dry. The salt extracts moisture, flavor, and phytochemicals from the plants, until...
4. The whole thing is dessicated, delicious, and ready to bottle.
5. Yum!

- Add powderized plants into the mix after finishing salts are ready, to create a salt blend. Some ideas: nettles gomasio (nettles, black sesame, cayenne, ginger), black pepper, etc.
- Aromatic herbs and spices work well, here.

With Vinegar

Oxymels/ Shrubs
1 part vinegar: 2-4 parts honey
(Can initially infuse plants with combined vinegar and honey, or combine honey infusion and vinegar infusion(s) afterwards.)

With Alcohol

1 C drinking alcohol (ie. Brandy): 1 C sweet syrup/ concentrate (can do 1 tincture: 3 sweet menstruum)
Let sit for a long time. Can be years!

Infused Wine
Infusing herbs into a drinking wine, with the tincture. May be more tasty than a straight tincture. Can add berries and other sweet fruits, to sweeten the medicine

1 part honey: 2-4 parts alcohol
Make with the same technique as making tinctures. Can strain after 2-4 weeks.

Pleasure Elixirs
Add 3 tsp of pre-formulated elixir(s) to 60 oz sparkling water, for a refreshing drink.

With Chocolate

Making Chocolate from Scratch
¼ C cocoa butter                4 T cocoa powder
2 T sweetener                      ¼ tsp vanilla extract

1. Melt cocoa butter in double boiler on low heat.
2. Stir in cocoa powder.
3. Add sweetener/ vanilla.
4. Add herbs/ nuts/ seeds/ fruits/ etc. (Optional)
5. Pour into molds.
6. When solid, release from molds… and enjoy!

Using Existing Chocolate
1. Melt the chocolate.
2. Add in what you want. Here’s options:
- Add in nuts, berries, solid/ powdered herbs/ tinctures/ sweet preparations, let resolidify.
- Layer herbs (infused into sweet menstruua) onto melted chocolate that has solidified a bit. The herbs can be swirled in lightly, or completely mixed in.
- Use marc from coconut oil infusion to make chocolate. 1 Coconut oil marc : 1 Chocolate. Melt together, and mix. (ex: rose petal marc). Can also use herbally infused coconut oil.
3. Mix thoroughly, and let resolidify. (Optional: If you have molds, such as ice cube trays, then you can pour into them, and skip the next step.)
4. Score or cut in desired shapes, once chocolate is hard enough to hold its shape.
5. Let dry slowly and completely. Do not refrigerate, as elements of the chocolate may separate.
6. Enjoy.

Recipes: a few possibilities
(All plants listed in parts. Refer to directions/ proportions above, using the parts listed.)

Arabic Honey Electuary
Black pepper 1: Ginger 1: Tumeric 6-8
4 oz. Honey: 3 T herb powder blend

Sore Throat Pastilles (from Rosemary Gladstar)
- 1 licorice root powder                             - 1 comfrey root powder
- 1 elm powder                                           - 12 echinacea powder
- 1/8 goldenseal powder

Cough and Sore Throat Syrup (from Rosemary Gladstar)
- 2 elm bark                              - 2 valerian
- 2 comfrey root                        - 1 wild cherry bark
- 2 licorice root                         - 1 ginger root
- 1 cinnamon bark                    - 4 fennel seeds
- 1/8 orange peel

Some Sweet Medicine Plant Suggestions
(Loosely organized by primary plant actions. Most plants straddle multiple categories)

- Garlic (Allium sativum)
- Onion (Allium sepa, and other Allium spp.)
- Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

- Black birch (Betula lenta)
- Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
- Tumeric (Curcuma longa)

- Pine needles (Pinus spp.)
- Rose hips (Rosa spp.)

Circulatory stimulant
- Black pepper (Piper nigrum)
- Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum)- Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
- Sage (Salvia spp.)

- Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
- Mints (Mentha spp.)

Nervine (relaxing)
- Anise star (Illicium verum)
- Chamomile (
Matricaria recutita)
- Lavender (
Lavandula officinalis)
- Lemon balm (
Melissa officinalis)
- Lemon verbena (
Aloysia citriodora)
- Rose petals (Rosa spp.)
- Tulsi (
Ocimum sanctum)
- Violets (Viola spp.)

- Elm (Ulmus spp.)
- Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa)
- Monarda (
Monarda spp.)
- Osha (
Ligusticum porterii)

1 C= 8 oz
1 pint= 16 oz
1 quart= 32 oz
1 oz= 30 mL

Web Resources
Sweet medicine basics

Cordial recipes

General mixology

Finishing salts


(Pictured: Out-on-a-Whim Farm (Bethany, CT) maypole, bedecked with all the sweetness of spring, and new beginnings. A floral centerpiece to a grand community celebration. And this, this is what "Sweet Medicine" truly is!)